Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Perfect Storm

I haven't shared my hideous night before last.... mostly because, as much as I wanted to vent it, I was thinking that it was just too gross to immortalize on my blog - I'd rather forget it.

But I gotta get it out.... so my apologies in advance.

We've been under a storm watch since the weekend.... freezing rain, blowing snow, blizzard conditions. (I wish Colorado would just keep their "lows" to themselves already!)

So it wasn't a huge surprise when my late night blog-hopping was cut short when the power went out at 11pm Tuesday night. I saw the power come back on across the street about a 1/2 hour later, so assumed ours would be back shortly too and just went to bed.

It didn't come back on again until 6:30 Wednesday morning.

I DID take the time to check in on the kids and toss an extra blanket over them in case it was a while before the heat kicked back on again.... thank Goodness.... and all I can say is I'm glad it was only - 8 outside and NOT - 30! The house got down to 16 degrees by morning (which is surprisingly warm considering no heat for 7+ hours.... sorry, I don't have the energy to convert to F - it's not as cold as it sounds.... we normally keep the house at 20 or 21).

I wasn't in bed long before I was roused by the sound of my oldest getting sick in our main bathroom upstairs.... I guess he woke up feeling like he was going to puke but, with no power, their bathroom downstairs was too dark and he made the mad dash upstairs to ours. Our main floor bath has a much larger window - and a comfortable amount of light comes in.... between the city glow and snow reflecting it back, it never gets truly dark at night in the winter - even in the middle of the night. It's still not enough light to really SEE stuff though.

So I rubbed his back, helped him wipe his nose and rinse his mouth when he was finished and got him comfortable under a quilt on the couch upstairs. That was just shortly after midnight.

Back to Bed.

Only to be roused an hour later by my poor boy getting sick again. Repeating the routine, stumbling around in the dark.... feeling like a zombie....uggg.

He wasn't settled from that stint but minutes before the girl woke up screaming - "Momeeeee! Momeeeee! My room's too dark! My room's too dark! (damn power was out still... her night light was gone). So I opened her window to let some light in but by that point she was wide awake and needed to go pee. And I led her to the bathroom where she went to step up on her stool... and slipped in a puddle of puke!

Apparently my little man had missed the bowl during his first race to get up here and, of course, I couldn't see it in the dark! Eeeewwwwww.....So I had to fumble in the dark to wash her feet, AND the stool and give the front of the seat a quick wipe just in case (still can't see a damn thing), and she did her business and I just wanted to get back into my damn bed..... And then she was too scared to sleep alone. And I was too exhausted to argue, so into our bed she came.

Only now I had to go before I could get back to sleep.... so I headed back to the bathroom and took a seat.... only to feel the wet and squish on my skin.... OMG!!

Apparently the boy had missed a little worse than I thought.... I guess, what I couldn't SEE in the dark (but could unfortunately FEEL) was that the back of the toilet seat was covered too. Talk about a complete gross-out!!

I know I shrieked... I won't cop to the words that came out of my mouth, but I was NOT happy. (I think I even questioned my decision to be a mom at that moment). Nothing like having to spray off to wake you right up in the wee hours. And the FREAKING power was still OUT. GRRRRRRRRR....

I eventually got back to bed, but not really to sleep again.... having the girl tossing around in the bed makes that next to impossible.

So I finally resigned myself to get out of bed sometime around 6am. My husband left to go buy coffee.... because no power means we couldn't make any and neither of us was capable of going without after that night.

While he was gone, the power came back on... and went off again shortly after... and then finally came back to stay.

And when I went back to the bathroom, with the lights shining bright, I kinda wished we were still in the dark..... it looked like something had been massacred in there! I have no idea why my son's spew had dried to a dark red color but it was all over the toilet, back of the toilet, floor around it, the stool in front AND splattered on the wall to one side and the side of the counter to the other.... along with a couple of cute footprints from my daughter's middle of the night escapade through the whole mess.

Apparently it had been projectile..... and to say he didn't quite make the bowl was an understatement.

So my helatious morning began with me scrubbing the toilet and walls and floor. Never a good way to start a day.

And then we got the call that the girl's daycare was being closed for the day because their power was still not back on.... and with our boy sick anyway (he might have been able to go to my Grandmother's so neither of us would have to miss work, but she couldn't handle the girl too), my husband had to miss a day of work and stay home with those two.

I was actually a little jealous... at least he'd have a chance to nap after our sleepless night. I have no idea how I didn't fall asleep at my desk yesterday.

I just hate the "perfect storms" of parenting that we all get slammed with at some point or another..... when everything that can go wrong does - and all at the same time.

Still, I lived.... and had power and got sleep last night, so I guess I can be over it now.

Venting is good.

"Friendly Manitoba"

That's the handle on our licence plates.... and we get ribbed for it alot of times because when you're driving down the road and get cut off by some maniac driver and catch a flash of that message on the plate, "friendly" is the last thing you think of!

So alot of people question our label of choice - but this morning, I think I gained a little insight.

Nothing like a blizzard and a bunch of stuck vehicles to bring out the "friendly" in people.

This morning my husband got stuck, not once but twice, getting ready to leave for work. For some reason, he decided to leave his vehicle parked on the road.... and as the snow continued to blow and drift, and the ice-covered streets slowly became buried under a fresh foot of snow, his car was marooned.

He went out to start it, pull it into the driveway and let it warm up before heading out - only when he actually attempted to pull into the drive, his little car became hopelessly stuck.... completely blocking the road.

My day began with him rousing me out of bed to put on my boots and get outside in the tail end of this storm to help push him out. (Brrrrr... definitely not my wake-up call of choice!)

And there was not much that he & I alone could do - but no problem! In the space of less than 5 minutes, two vehicles stopped and their drivers lent a hand.... the car was quickly moved off the road under the group effort.

(Now mind you, the drivers didn't have a lot of choice here.... if they decided NOT to help, they wouldn't have been going anywhere regardless - the car was completely blocking their path!)

Then again, 20 minutes later, when he was actually ready to leave for work, he backed out onto the road, turned to drive off - and found his tires hopelessly spinning down the glare ice under the snow. Once more it was only a matter of minutes before two more drivers stopped to lend a hand... one older lady (who we nominated "driver" for the purpose of getting my husband's vehicle moving) and one younger.

He never phoned me after finally getting on his way, so I'm going to assume that he got to work without further incidents.

When it was my turn to venture out with the kids, I passed more than one scene like ours earlier that morning: people helping others to continue on their way when help was needed. And after dropping off the kids at daycare, I myself stopped to help an elderly gentleman with two passengers who'd skidded off the road and into a snowbank.

And after resuming my commute, I started to think about all the people helping - about how it's a universal kind of understanding around here that if you need help, someone will stop to assist.... and if you see someone who needs help, you feel compelled to lend a hand.

We ARE friendly.... maybe because we have to be (like not being able to continue on YOUR way without moving someone in need whose blocking your path), but mostly because we're united here in our communal battle against what mother nature so often throws our way.

Whether it's the people with snow-blowers helping neighbors without, or stopping for the group pushing/shovelling/lifting of vehicles embedded in snow.... or even joining in on sand-bagging efforts to survive the floods that these spring blizzards lead to (even when your home is not one in jeopardy).

Everyone pitches in, usually with a smile on their face, so that we can all continue on our way.

There's a community spirit that's not often found in a city of 700,000 people.

Just one thing I love about living in "Friendly Manitoba".

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Will we ever get it?

I'm trying to wrap my head around the ageism in our society.

I just don't get it. Why on Earth do so many people, especially their own children (my parents' generation!) behave as if every elderly person is losing their marbles?

I've come the conclusion that this belief; that all those older than us are inferior intellects, is just an ingrained trait in humans. We ALL delude ourselves.

C'mon, admit it.... when you were young (when did it start... pre-teen, teen?) you thought your parents were completely out of it. They didn't GET it, they couldn't understand.... they were just too old.

And now that we're the parents, realization dawns: We are, in fact, not less capable just because we've aged into adulthood. Our intellects have not diminished with each grey hair that sprouts on our head - and we certainly are not "out of it". It may take us a little more time to fully grasp and begin to take advantage of new technologies.... things we've never encountered before, but we're still as smart as we ever were (smarter, in fact, because we have some life experience to go along with our smart-alec selves).

It may be slightly embarrassing that our own children, weaned on micro-chips it seems, can grasp new products with a speed and facility greater even than ours, but it certainly doesn't make us stupid!

Even when the rolling of our own kids' eyes is now telling us that they believe differently.

So, for a while I guess, we commiserate with our parents, maybe even apologize.... and they laugh their assess off as they watch us dealing with these younger versions of ourselves.

Only, at some point, we must forget that lesson. I think the cycle starts all over again.... and people start to talk down to their parents again as they age - behave in a condescending manor towards the seniors in their lives, even if they're unaware that they're doing it.

It's maddening. People have to stop. We just have to recognize that it's normal to be over-whelmed by technology never before experienced in your lifetime - whatever age you might be when faced with it.... we humans are not as quick to adapt to change as we like to profess.

Just as it does not make us idiots that we don't instantly grasp every feature on our new iphone the day we get it, neither does it make an elderly person stupid or senile because they can't grasp the intricacies of something new to them, (that we pass off as simplistic): like Internet banking.

And just like we want to wipe that know-it-all look off our kid's face when the eyes are rolling in our direction, I can't believe more elderly people aren't slapping us for the condescending tones they have to put up with on a daily basis from most middle-aged people! (maybe they secretly want to, but are constrained by the manners of an earlier generation too!)

Maybe having my 84 year old mother-in-law living with me for a while, or taking my Grandmother out more often recently has sensitized me to the issue.... but I just shake my head and wonder what the heck is WITH some people?

Case in point: I took my Grandmother to the bank today. They'd made a mistake when she did a bill payment earlier in the month and sent her payment to someone else's account. She wanted it reversed and corrected so her bill was the one credited with the payment. Pretty cut and dry.

I just dropped her off and ran to handle an errand of my own, then I returned and went into the bank to see if she was done.

From the minute I sat down beside her, the teller ceased communicating with my Grandmother and started directing her explanations to me.

Why? The situation had NOTHING to do with me.... and my Grandmother had been handling everything fine without me up until then! I thought she was incredibly rude.

And the tone of voice?? OMG... I'm sure she meant to sound sweet and caring, but she was really just down right insulting - the tone of voice she used, and the pace of her words and clarity in enunciation were the exact way one would express things clearly to a toddler!

Talking a little louder, slowing down the spacing between words.... I think someone needed to explain to her that grey hair is NOT a direct indicator of deafness! At one point she even interrupted her overly-thorough explanation to my Grandmother in order to address me directly (as an aside... like my Grandma couldn't hear):

"If she has any trouble understanding what we've done, just tell her that.... blah, blah, blah..."

"Why??", I couldn't help but counter, "She's not deaf!"

And my Grandmother just absorbed it and didn't get ruffled at all. I couldn't believe it.... I was supremely annoyed on her behalf, but she was so used to it that it didn't even faze her anymore. I asked her if she gets treated that way alot and she said "all the time".

And I know it's true... because I see it with her, and with my mother-in-law, and with the elderly clients I serve who bring their adult children with them to appointments. I swear, all around me people are turning back into those eye-rolling teenagers again.

And they think they're right, this time.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

How to tell a Canadian:

Laura Ingles Wilder, I'm not, but I have to cop to some differences between myself and my American friends, so I've pulled a little list. I thought it would make a good frame of reference to show how normal I am ;) Most of these are borrowed and I've added a few of my own.... but just so you know:

- We stand in "line-ups" or "queues" at the movie, not lines.
- We're not offended by the term, "Homo Milk".
- We understand the sentence, "Could you please pass me a serviette, I just spilled my BOWL OF POUTINE"!
- We eat chocolate bars instead of candy bars.
- We drink pop, not soda.
- We had a Prime Minister who wasn't fluent in either of the official languages (English & French).
- We know what it means to be 'on pogey'.
- We know that a mickey and 2-4's mean there's a party brewing.
- We can drink legally while still a teen in most provinces.
- We talk about the weather with strangers and friends alike (it's an obsession... just look at the number of posts I'VE put in on the topic!).
- We don't know or care about the fuss with Cuba, it's just a cheap place to travel with very good cigars.
- When there is a social problem, we turn to our government to fix it, instead of telling them to stay out of it.
- We're not sure if the leader of our nation has EVER had sex and we don't WANT to know if he has!
- We still get milk in bags as well as cartons and plastic jugs.
- To us, Pike is a type of fish, not some part of a highway.
- We drive on a highway, not a freeway.
- We know what a Robertson screwdriver is.
- We have Canadian Tire money in our kitchen drawers.
- We know that Mounties rarely look like that.
- We dismiss all beers under 6% as "for children and the elderly."
- We know that the Friendly Giant isn't a vegetable product line.
- We also know that Casey and Finnegan are not a Celtic musical group.
- We drive with our headlights on during the day (since 1989, all new cars have been fitted with "daytime running lights")... but doesn't everyone now?
- We have an Inuit carving somewhere in our home.
- We wonder why there isn't a 5 dollar coin yet.
- Like any international assassin/terrorist/spy in the world, we possess a Canadian Passport.
- We use a red pen on our non-Canadian textbooks and fill in the missing 'u's from labor, honor, color. etc.
- We know the French equivalents of "free", "prize", and "no sugar added", thanks to our extensive education in bilingual cereal packaging.
- We get excited whenever an American television show mentions Canada.
- We can do all the hand actions to Sharon, Lois and Bram's "Skin-a-ma-rinky-dinky-doo" opus.
- We can eat more than one maple sugar candy without feeling nauseous.
- We know what a touque is (it's NOT called a toboggan!) and we all own one and often wear it.
- We know Toronto is NOT a province.
- We never miss "Coach's Corner" during Hockey Night in Canada.
- Back bacon and Kraft Dinner are two of our favourite food groups.
- Our cars have a cord and plug sticking out of the grill ... it's a block heater for those sub-zero (in Celsius) days.
- We design our Halloween costumes to fit over a snowsuit.
- The mosquitoes have landing lights.
- Some of us have more kilometres on our snow blowers than our cars.
- We have an average of 10 favourite recipes for wild meat.
- We know that a Canadian Tire Store on any Saturday is busier than most toy stores at Christmas.
- We've taken our kids trick-or-treating in a blizzard.
- We know driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled in with frozen snow and slush.
- Some of us owe more money on our snowmobiles than our cars.
- The local paper covers national and international headlines on 2 pages, but requires 6 pages for hockey.
- At least twice a year, the kitchen doubles as a meat processing plant.
- We frequently clean grease off the barbecue so the bears won't prowl on our deck (at least at the lake!).
- We find -40C a little chilly.
- The trunk of our cars double as a portable deep freezes. (so do backyard sheds!)
- The deck or the snowbank outside the back door is an acceptable place to chill and stash beverages at parties.
- We may attend a formal event in our best clothes, our finest jewellery and our Sorels.
- We can sometimes play road hockey on skates.
- We know the 4 seasons are actually: Winter, Still Winter, almost Winter and Construction.
- The municipality buys a Zamboni before a bus.
- We understand the Labatt Blue commercials.
- We perk-up when we hear the theme from "Hockey Night in Canada" (or at least we used to!).
- We pronounce the last letter of the alphabet "zed" instead of "zee."
and ... We end *some* sentences with "eh," ... eh?

Just when you thought it was over....

We're saddled with a spring Blizzard.

All the melting and beautiful spring-like weather is forgotten as we're forced to slog through a pelting of heavy, wet sleet and snow.

Highways are closed and I can't see my neighbor's house from mine.


I shouldn't complain - it's only March. Please let this not be a year when we're hit with another Blizzard in May. It's happened before.

Perspective is important. Let winter have it's last hurrah.... the tide IS turning and the warm weather will come again.

(I hope.)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Turkey Day in March....

I'm going to look back on the title of this post and think it was about Easter.....

But it's not.

It's about how I use our shed in the back yard as a large extension of our deep freeze in the winter months and place additional items that need to stay frozen in it when our freezer is full.

Last fall, when our 1/2 Bison was delivered, there were several things that needed to go out to the shed. One of those things was a 17 lb Turkey that my husband received from work before Christmas. At one point we had an entire maximum-size cooler full of meat staying frozen in the shed outside.... and we slowly went through it all... either using it or moving it back in doors as space allowed.

All except the bird. We totally forgot about the 17 lb frozen turkey....

And as much as we've been enjoying the break in the weather lately, the fact that we are no longer living in a deep freeze ISN'T good for keeping meat frozen!

So we discovered the Turkey, almost thawed, in the shed yesterday. Which means that I was cooking a turkey until 10:30pm last night. And 10:30 being a time when the house is sleeping, not waiting to sit down to a home cooked meal, means that we'll be having turkey dinner tonight.

At least I don't have to wonder about what to cook for dinner today.

And since the bird was 17 lbs, I should say don't have to worry about what to cook this week!

Anyone got any great turkey leftover recipes to share??

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Perfect Argument

My husband totally missed it....

In all of his attempts to talk me out of getting a dog.... amongst all his reasons against it.... never ONCE did he bring up "spring cleaning" in the yard.

After a day of shovelling (and not even getting half done!), I'm wishing he had reminded me what spring is like for dog owners whose yards are covered in snow for 7-8 months of the year.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

She just bends that way.

I've spent the past weeks, I guess really months, growing ever more concerned about my little girl.

It probably started sometime around Christmas (I swear I'm not a bad Mom - she's just a third child!).... She would complain about a sore knee.... need me to kiss it better; even though there was nothing for me to see.

You brush those little things off... you know, assume she must've bumped in on something, maybe fell down.

And then a week or so later, the knee again - or was it the other one this time? It's "owie", needs a band-aid (because we all know band-aids make everything better).

It went on for a while before it dawned on me that she was complaining a little too much - too often about sore knees (or occasionally other joints) for me to ignore.

The Mom radar went off - there was something wrong with my girl.... 2 1/2 is way too young to be suffering from chronic joint pain of any kind. I made an appointment to have her, and her sore knees seen.

And in the days that passed before her appointment I had plenty of time to kick myself for letting it go on so long before cluing in. Would I have waited so long if she were a firstborn? Would I have have been more attentive if our house weren't such a constantly-in-motion zoo?

I also had plenty of time for the worst-case scenarios to run rampant through my brain; what if it were juvenile arthritis? Or worse, some freaky weird from of cancer??

(why do we let those kinds of thoughts fester & take root? I'm not alone here, I don't think...)

So off to the pediatrician we went.

Where I tried to explain what I'd been noticing and insist that this happy, smiling chatty little girl was in some sort of pain often enough to have me worried.... honest!

(why do kids never have symptoms of their mysterious problems when you're actual in front of a doctor? Is that a strange twist of Murphy's law?)

But, after examining her, he DID see something wrong:

She's really bendy.

As in hyper-something something syndrome.... or what I remember we used to call "double-jointed"

Loose/soft connective tissue.... joints that easily over-extend and can make her susceptible to join pain - especially on very active days when she might hyper-extend something during play.

He showed me how her thumb & pinkie touch easily across the back of her hand, let me feel her rotating shoulder and how it shifts, showed me the elbow that bends a little too open.... kneecaps that "float all over the place".... etc.

That's it?? Not arthritis? No hideously awful prognosis or disease??

Bendy I can live with :)


Monday, March 16, 2009


There's this thing that most people do.... and I remember that I used to be really good at it too.

They call it sleep.

And there was a time, in my young adulthood, that I spurned it.... too much to do, so much fun to have with not enough hours in a day to accomplish all I desired - sleep was just a waste of time to me then.

It forgave me though and we rebuilt our relationship in the years that followed. Thank goodness too, because after a time I discovered that I really needed sleep.... I'm a much healthier, happier person with sleep in my life.

Parenthood tried to drive us apart, but we survived the early years of my two sons and still had a strong relationship.

Until now.

Sleep is avoiding me now. I'm not sure exactly what I've done, but the relationship is strained to say the least.

What IS insomnia?

Because it's not that I'm not tired.... I'm beyond tired most days, bordering on exhaustion... and I do sleep - but just never enough. Each morning I wake up feeling just a little further behind.... by the afternoon I struggle to stay awake, and by the time I pick up the kids and get home, I'm ready to go to bed.

Unfortunately, as much as I desire sleep, I can not have sleep at that time of day...

Dinner to make, kids activities to see to, their bedtime routines to complete before I can stop....

Only by the time it's all done, I've got a second wind and sleep, for me, is no where to be found.

So I stay up, and play on the computer or watch TV, or if I'm being good, hit the treadmill then shower.... but regardless of how I pass the hours between my children's bedtime and mine, it's very late before the time for sleep gets to me.

So I never get enough.... and haven't for so long now that I suppose I slog through my day to day in a state of chronic fatigue.

Can you catch up on sleep? Because I tried - I actually still felt tired after putting my kids to bed one evening last week.... and the following day was an inservice for the kids with no rush in the morning! So I slept and slept.... woke up in the middle of the night after my usual dose of sleep, and was able to continue sleeping. I must have slept over 10 hours.

But instead of the refreshment I expected to feel the next morning (I finally had REST!), all I felt was a headache.... like a mild hangover from sleep.

That was just wrong.

And then there's this little person who lives in my house.... she's cute, but relentless - and completely oblivious to her mothers NEED for sleep.

She wakes up like a ray of sunshine each morning, after her full night's sleep, and make a beeline for my bed....

"Ah moning mommy!"

"wook - it's moning time!" (as she tries to get me to open my eyes and face the light coming through the bedroom window)

"wake up.... Wake Up.... WAKE UP MOMMY!" (at which point she'll often climb up over me and start threatening to jump on me from the ledge of our headboard).

Sometimes I can make her go away.... "Mommy's not ready honey.... go see Daddy" *might* work... but it's only ever a temporary measure... kind of like pressing snooze on your alarm clock. I may get a few more minutes, but she'll always be back - loud as ever.

Until she wins and Mommy wakes up.


I thought I brushed her off well this weekend... but my girl is not only relentless, she's starting to get devious too....

I got my little wake up call, snuggled her for a minute but succeed in scooting her along into her father's care (he's a chronic early riser - God I love him!)... and she didn't come right back!

But it wasn't too long before my husband came in and plunked down in the bed beside me.

"Your daughter asked me to come in here and tickle you." .... I cracked an eye at the devilish grin on his face...

"She did what? Don't you dare!"

And then I heard my little imp.... out in the hall: She was trying to solicit her older brother into doing the same darn thing!

"Tome ON! Go tickow Mommy!"

(That little monkey!)

So forget it, I admit when I'm beat... I give up already....

Monday, March 9, 2009

Trying to find my way

Parenting my baby boy challenges me.

Not that I'm suggesting parenting any child.... or my other two children, is ever a cake-walk, but I find myself feeling lost so many times when it comes to my youngest boy.

When he was five, he was diagnosed as "being on the autism spectrum of disorders".

How's that for vague?

It was explained to me that the Autism Spectrum is like a rainbow.... a whole range of behaviours and developmental delays.... with full blown Autism at the furthest end, syndromes like Aspergers being slightly behind that and all the way down to children that are really borderline.

My boy was one of those, perhaps barely on the spectrum, children.

I accepted the diagnosis.... asked for it even. It was the culmination of several years of trying so hard to fight for the additional resources I KNEW my boy needed - even though we had no label, no banner to fly, in our struggle to secure them.

He started speech therapy when he was two, and he was granted funding for an additional aide/worker from the provincial child daycare office sometime before three.... but the schools were much trickier. There are so many children who should really have more help than they do but the resources are so difficult to tap into that many are left struggling without.

My son was NOT going to be one of those.

Specialists, my pediatrician explained to me, are reluctant to label children these days. Once a diagnosis is written down in black and white for all the world to see, it's very hard to shake later. So they waiver, and they hold back - and the younger the child is, the more difficult it is to get an answer out of anyone.

So when we sat with the Doctor in the Child Development Clinic after yet another assessment where they pointed out to me where all his delays and inconsistent behaviours were.... and when she finally asked me, point blank, what I wanted her to do, I told her straight up:

"I want the label. I need a diagnosis. If I don't have something concrete to take back to the school board, he's not going to get the help he needs - and he needs the help."

She agreed. And so there we were with "Behaviours consistent with the Autism Spectrum of Disorders".

I embraced it because it was a tool for me to use as I slashed away at the bureaucratic red tap standing between my child and the help he needed. But I never really did own the fact that my child was on the spectrum.

He just has speech delays, he's just a little slow to meet his milestones, he'll catch up eventually once he has the help.


But as he ages, it's getting difficult for me to deny any more. A handful of his behaviours, that seemed a little quirky but could be written off as age-appropriate silliness before, just look more and more off now that he's older. The skipping back an forth across the room - that used to be amusing in our energetic toddler, is now painfully, obviously the self-stimulating coping mechanism that it is. He skips to calm himself when he feels overwhelmed or at loose ends.

The repetitive play patterns; the animals he still routinely holds in both hands. Age appropriate at three or even four.... but just a little off at eight.

He's smart. He can do most of his school work at grade level with no difficulty... as long as his aide or teacher keep him on task. Getting side-tracked is too easy for my boy.

But his biggest difficulties are social. He's way behind socially. It shows in his sense of humor and the attempts he makes to interact with the other children. I haven't had a Doctor pin a number on us, but if I had to guess, I would think he's like a 5-6 year old child developmentally.

Which endears him completely to the adults in his life. My son has always been loved and adored by the people that come into contact with him: family, care-givers, teachers - he brings smiles to faces and warms hearts all along the way.

But it's killing him socially.

He knows he's different now, which he never did before. I'm not sure when the awareness dawned, but he knows there are jokes that go over his head. And he hurts with the knowledge that not all the kids want to play with him because he doesn't interact the same as everyone else.

And I don't know how to help him.

It hurts my heart to hear him call himself stupid.... or to watch the tears roll when he proclaims that nobody likes him. He's starting to feel isolated and I just want to wrap my arms around him and protect him from all the nastiness in the world.... sooth his hurts and just make everyone be nice to him.

But I can't. And the powerlessness of it all kills me.

Emotions run high in my boy. All of them. When he's happy he beams with it, when he laughs it's without restraint. When he's mad, people may have to dodge flying toys, tipping furniture or slamming doors (although this is getting better as he ages). So it's no different with hurt feelings. Getting in trouble at school or daycare, a harsh word correcting behaviour from Mom or Dad.... these things are the end of the world in his little universe. The tears flow freely and, more and more, he berates himself and tells himself that he's no good - over the simplest things it seems.

The other evening was hard. He was just having a very bad day. His brother said something mean to him (or maybe his sister did something?) and he was crying, he tripped coming up the stairs and hit his shin so he was crying, he did something wrong that his Dad yelled at him for and the tears came again... all within the hour we were home before heading out to Beavers.

I left the house with him, a little early, to drive to Beavers and tried to settle his frayed nerves. Told him to take deep breaths and talk to me... and he came out with: "Everybody hates me, I'm a bad, bad boy!" ....sobbing....

It hurt my heart to see him that way, completely defeated and crushed, crying tears from a wound I couldn't just kiss better or cover with a band-aid.

When I asked him who he thought didn't like him he listed a friend from daycare, another name I couldn't understand, and his DAD.

No wonder he was sobbing.

We took a detour to the local coffee shop/ice cream parlour and sat down for some one on one, a little treat, and a chance to sort him out before going to Beavers - he was in no state to be dropped off.

It took me the better part of 20 minutes to coax a smile out him again. To help him realize that his father loves him more than anything else in the world - even if he gets mad at him over something... it doesn't matter. To make him see that just because one boy didn't want to play with him at daycare today, it doesn't mean no one ever will - what about all those other friends that DO play with you my boy? 20 minutes of soothing, and patching his oh-so-fragile self-esteem.

When we finally climbed back into the van, he smiled at me and said "I'm a smart, happy boy." Which he was again, for now.

But I know this is just the beginning.... it's not going to get easier as he gets older. And it hurts me so much to see this beautiful, charming boy exclaim feelings of hating himself, or his life, at the tender age of eight.

I hate not knowing what to do. I hate not being able to fix. I hate feeling so inadequate when it come to parenting my baby boy.

I can only try. And love. And hope we can guide him through.

I just wish I didn't feel so lost. I wish I had someone to tell me: "Do this and it will all be better."

I know it's not going to be that simple. I guess sometimes we just have to stumble along and try to find our way.

Shouldn't have waited so long!

Sunday morning I finally got around to taking the kids swimming - well at least 2 of them.... my oldest turned his nose up at the idea when he found out the big pool wouldn't be open, only the kiddie pool. Sad for him, we had a blast!

I've been meaning to take them occasionally all winter.... but there's always been something getting in the way; hockey, activities.... my need for more sleep in the mornings.... really, I didn't mean to let so many months go by...

We met my sister-in-law and niece there and it was so much fun. My son and niece stayed busy retrieving the diving rings we kept tossing into the deeper end and my girl.... oh my girl! She was absolutely hilarious!

I couldn't stop laughing at her reaction.... she was tickled pink bouncing and tip-toeing through the water.... squealing and giggling whenever the water set her balance off a bit.

It was joy. Sheer, unadulterated joy. You couldn't stop smiling and laughing just watching her.... she loved it so much that I felt even worse for not taking her in so long.

We'll definitely be making more of a habit for this family.

I need more of those smiles!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The little thrills in life.

This just gets better and better... my daughter is tickled pink.

This morning's drive through the backstretch took several minutes longer than usual as we had to wait for 5 horses, going both directions, to clear our path at the crossing before we could drive through.... and then once we were driving alongside the training track, waiting for a set to round the corner so the princess could see them up close, we got to see some action!

On of the gallop boys earned himself the title on a new piece of real estate and we got to see the Outrider chase down and catch the loose horse on the track. It was kinda cool. My girl was mesmerized... we watched until the horse was caught and rider back up before going to daycare.

And to think 2 days ago I was complaining about nothing for her to see ;)

Do you mean me??

I HATE those computer generated messages that pop up every 20 seconds or so when you're on hold these days....

"Thank you for your patience, your call is important to us and is being answered in rotation"

How presumptive of them.

Just for the record - I have NO patience... and it's insulting to be thanked repeatedly for displaying something I have NONE of.

And really, if my call was important to you, you wouldn't keep me on hold for 17 minutes before answering the phone. A HUMAN would answer.

Just saying.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Someone's listening

Complain about the bitterly cold temps for this time of year and lo & behold: A sunny day that reached Zero degrees!

Fret over disappointing my girl with the lack of horses on the drive to daycare... well looky-there: we saw seven this morning on our way through!

I'm contemplating what to complain about next....

I think I'm feeling a little broke.... ;)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Spring is on the way...

Even though -20 with windchills of -30 still may not feel like spring is just around the corner, I know that now, officially, spring is almost here....

That right of passage in the turning of the seasons, which used to dictate the pace of our lives has once again come to pass: They've opened the track for spring training!

Once upon a past life, this would have meant long, cold, dirty days in the shedrow getting the horses ready for another season. It would have meant dragging my sore, tired body out of bed in the pre-dawn to knock ice off water buckets... and endless brushing of sweaty, matted, shedding horses. It would have meant the end of our winter break and the resumption of 7 days a week of toil in the hopes of a strong season and the money it would bring.

But not any more.

All it means to me now is that the meat of the winter is behind us.... and the stirrings of a new season have begun - even if I can't see them under the mounds of snow as I race from buildings to vehicle trying not to freeze my ass off still.

It also means a chance for my daughter to try and catch glimpses of her favorite animals in the world when we drive to daycare in the morning again. It means I can stop saying "They're not here honey, they're at home on their farms" when she asks where the horses are. It's like driving through a frozen ghost town on the backstretch in the winter here....

There aren't very many here yet - I was really excited to see someone walking one outside the barn as I waited for the light to change so I could drive across and into the barn area.... I told my girl and she got all excited to see it.... but when we finally drove around to where it had been, the groom had already led it back into the barn. She was crushed.

She also didn't understand that our friend, along with her favorite horse, Pal, from last year are not here yet.... she made a beeline for his still-empty barn when I opened the door and released her from her seat this morning. I felt bad disappointing her....

Put it'll change quick. This small trickle of horses over the past couple of weeks will quickly turn into a flood, and by next month the barns will be filled again and our mornings will again include waiting for horses going to and from the training track to clear our path so that we can cross and my favorite: those little snatches of time to watch a few gallop before getting on with our day.

It's nice that I can still expose her to the "fun" side of this world, without the early mornings and 7 days a week ;)

C'mon spring... you're almost here!